Cellular Exploration

Your body is composed of 50 trillion pulsing orbs that collaborate in an extraordinarily functional community which keeps you alive.  In this project, students will delve into the mysteries and intricacies of the cell.  During the exploratory process, students will create a cell model in an hour, make a cell analogy collage, visit a microbiology lab, debate the multicellular vs. unicellular evolutionary strategy, and create a Podcast or Interactive Museum Exhibit as their Final Product.
 

Master Plan & Timeline

Driving Questions
  • What does a cell do, how does it do it, and what parts are involved?  

  • How and why did some cells change from simple single-celled organisms into gigantic communities full of highly specialized cells with various organelles?

Learning Objectives

Skills:

  • Collaboration

  • Creativity

  • Presentation skills

  • Debating / Arguing a position

  • Audio Engineering

Content

  • Bio 1.1.1 - Summarize the structure and function of organelles in eukaryotic cells (including the nucleus, plasma membrane, cell wall, mitochondria, vacuoles, chloroplasts, and ribosomes) and ways that these organelles interact with each other to perform the function of the cell.

  • Bio 1.1.2 - Compare prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells in terms of their general structures (plasma membrane and genetic material) and degree of complexity.

  • Bio 1.1.3 - Explain how instructions in DNA lead to cell differentiation and result in cells specialized to perform specific functions in multicellular organisms.

  • Bio 1.2.1 - Explain how homeostasis is maintained in the cell and within an organism in various environments (including temperature and pH).

  • Bio 1.2.2 - Analyze how cells grow and reproduce in terms of interphase, mitosis and cytokinesis.

  • Bio 1.2.2 - Explain how specific cell adaptations help cells survive in particular environments (focus on unicellular organisms).

  • Bio 3.3.1 - Interpret how DNA is used for comparison and identification of organisms.

  • Bio 3.4.1 - Explain how fossil, biochemical, and anatomical evidence support the theory of evolution.

  • Bio 3.4.2 - Explain how natural selection influences the changes in species over time.

  • Bio 3.5.2 - Analyze the classification of organisms according to their evolutionary relationships (including dichotomous keys and phylogenetic trees).

  • Bio 4.2.1 - Analyze photosynthesis and cellular respiration in terms of how energy is stored, released, and transferred within and between these systems.

  • Bio 4.2.2 - Explain ways that organisms use released energy for maintaining homeostasis (active transport).

Benchmarks
 

Entry Event

  • Brainstorm ideas of how you can make a Eukaryotic cell model in one hour
  • Include these organelles
    • Cell Wall (if making plant cell)
    • Cell Membrane
    • Nucleus
    • Cytoplasm
    • Endoplasmic Reticulum
    • Ribosome
    • Mitochondria
    • Vacuole
    • Lysosome
    • Chloroplast (if making plant cell)
  • Make a cross section model in 3D using materials in class or outdoors
  • Group mini presentations 
 

Cell Analogy Collage

Project description source

 

Webster defines analogy: “A comparison between two things which are similar in some respects, but otherwise are different; an explaining of something by comparing it point by point with something else.”

 

For this project, you will need: poster paper; text with illustration of cell structures to refer to; scissors; paste; drawing pencils or pens; magazines and/or newspaper ad sections.

 

  • Step 1: Draw a plant or animal cell in pencil in the center of the poster board. Include the following structures (if you are drawing a plant cell, only include structures that are found in plant cells; if you are drawing an animal cell, only include structures that are found in animal cells):)

    • Cell Wall (if making plant cell)

    • Cell Membrane

    • Nucleus

    • Nucleolus

    • Golgi Apparatus

    • Perioxisome

    • Cytoplasm

    • Cytoskeleton

    • Centriole

    • Endoplasmic Reticulum

    • Ribosome

    • Mitochondria

    • Vacuole

    • Lysosome

    • Chloroplast (if making plant cell)

    • Leucoplast

  • Step 2: Correctly identify your cell as a plant cell or an animal cell.

  • Step 3: Find out the function (or main job) each structure has in the cell.

  • Step 4: Find a magazine or newspaper picture of an everyday object that has a similar function (or use) as each cell structure (you may also draw the everyday object if you can’t find a picture). Write an analogy to show the similarity between the cell part and the everyday object. Be sure to explain the reasoning behind your analogies. (For example: “The Golgi apparatus is like a post office because it modifies, sorts and packages protein for delivery like a post office packages and sorts mail for delivery.”)

  • Step 5: Paste the pictures of everyday objects at the edges of the poster board. Label the pictures with your neatly written analogies and make a pointer to the correct structure in your cell drawing.

  • Step 6: Be certain that there are at least 13 analogies. 

 

Microbiology Lab Field Trip

Students will visit the microbiology lab at Murphy Medical Center to discover one of the most notable applications of biology in medicine.  This visit will teach us about the basics of microbiology and the purpose of this type of lab in treating infections.  It will also emphasize the application of evolutionary thinking in medical contexts.  Students should complete the following assignment before our visit:

 

ASSIGNMENT:

Watch this video:

 

Read the following articles

 

Answer these questions making references to the articles / video:

  • What is microbiology and why does it matter?

  • How are bacteria and antibiotics in an Evolutionary Arm's Race?

  • What are "superbugs" and why should we care about them?

  • What are 4 ways understanding evolution can impact medicine?

  • What features make prokaryotes so good at adapting to new environments?

 

 

Unicellular vs. Multicellular Debate

Prepare to debate the question:
  • Is it more adaptive to be a unicellular or a multicellular organism?
 
Do a Resource Dig with your group.  
Each group member will read one of the following articles and report back to the group.  Use the Resource Dig instructions below:
 
Resource Dig Instructions:
  • Read the article.

  • Write the 3 main ideas of the article.

  • Write 2 questions you have about the article.

  • Write 1 way it influenced your opinion about our debate.

 
Do general research on the debate question:
  • Your research should address the following:

    • What are the benefits and drawbacks of multi- and uni-cellularity?

    • Are uni- or multi-cellular organisms more abundant?

    • How do we measure success or adaptiveness in this context?

  • Research the benefits and drawbacks of both strategies >3 GOOD sources other than the ones in the Resource Dig

  • Take 1-3 pages of notes from your research

  • Provide a bibliography of your sources

 
Participate fully in the debate through respectfully arguing your position and using evidence to back up your opinion

FINAL PRODUCT: Podcasts & Cell Museums

 
Podcasts
First Block will create Podcasts that investigate an interesting angle on a cell biology concept.  Students can model their approach after the popular radio show from WNYC, Radiolab. Podcasts must meet the following criteria:
 
  • Is focused on one of the following cellular processes: respiration / photosynthesis, homeostasis, reproduction (mitosis / meiosis), communication (signaling), transport, & differentiation.

    • Include the following about your process:

      • What are the steps of the process?

      • What organelles are involved and how are they involved?

      • What is the importance of the process?

      • How does it change in different organisms?

      • What are some analogies of this process in our world?

  • 10-20 minutes in length

  • Has a STORY that teaches a lesson about one of these topics

  • Has music and sound effects thoughtfully edited into the episode

  • Has a clear focus, but is not just a lesson on the process

  • Contains every group member's voice

  • Contains at least one interview with an expert on the material

  • Demonstrates excellent knowledge of the concept

  • Is infused with humor and emotion with a conversational style.

Cell Museum
Second Block will create Interactive Museum Exhibits that will take visitors on an exciting tour of cellular processes.  Each group will focus on one essential cellular process and will create an exhibit that teaches visitors about it in an interactive, creative way. Each exhibit must meet the following criteria:
 
  • Is focused on one of the following cellular processes: respiration / photosynthesis, homeostasis, reproduction (mitosis / meiosis), communication (signaling), cellular transport, & differentiation.
    • Include the following about your process:

      • What are the steps of the process?

      • What organelles are involved and how are they involved?

      • What is the importance of the process?

      • How does it change in different organisms?

      • What are some analogies of this process in our world?

  • Is experiential / interactive in nature (not a presentation!)
  • Is highly creative
  • Has artistic, visual elements
  • Covers the cellular process in detail
  • Each group member can walk a visitor through the exhibit and answer detailed questions about the process